THE ROLE AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH IN CHURCH PLANTING

 “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

The local church began with Christ and His disciples. The Great Commission of reaching, baptizing and teaching was given to the local church (Matthew 28:18-20). The power to begin at home and go to the uttermost parts of the earth in reproducing herself was given to the local church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:8).

The authority of the local church rests in her head Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18). We are not building His church; He is building His church (Matthew 16:18). The local, visible, identifiable New Testament assembly of believers follows Christ’s commands through the leadership of His under-shepherd and over-seer, the Pastor (Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1-4).

The Biblical Pastor under Christ is the initiator of His work in the local church. He leads the church in the understanding of its responsibility to reach the world for Christ. He directs the church to become reproducible through building leaders whose lives are reproducible as well. The living organism of the local church thus reproduces after its own kind through division (Acts 8:1,4,5 – example of Philip).

The church at Antioch in Acts 13 sent out men who were called, qualified and capable. They were not looking for somewhere to send someone to be “an encouragement” to them. They were not looking for a place of service elsewhere for those who could not or would not serve effectively in their own local church. Neither were they weary with holding back those with empty zeal to let them “give it a try” (this accounts for many failed church plants). Barnabas and Saul did not go to the church; the Holy Spirit sent the church to them. Called men do not seek leadership; leadership seeks them.

The church is serious about reproducing herself and desiring to bear fruit that remains sends out those men who are faithful and diligent in the Lord’s work already. They have submitted themselves to the leadership of the pastor and had hands on training for an extended period of time. Having proved themselves faithful in all things, God works in both their heart and the pastor’s. The pastor recognizes God’s hand upon their lives and by the leadership of the Holy Spirit discerns the timing of the Lord and His call in sending them out to plant other churches. This leads to successful churches being reproduced.

The wise pastor is not keeping all his best men and sending out the rest. He is training capable men to multiply the work of the Lord; all the while having faith that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers to replace them. He is pure in His own motives and not trying to send out too many too soon, so he can boast in “his church-planting efforts.” Not only could these men of character and commitment work on his staff, but he would feel comfortable placing his own family under their ministry.

The wise preacher serving Christ under the leadership of his pastor sees the wisdom of God in honoring one is faithfulness in that which is another man’s. Character is consistent. Diligent service in the laymen areas of ministry qualifies men for opportunities of greater responsibility in the work of the Lord (Luke 16:10-12). God knows where His men are. He sends for them in His time (Psalm 75:5-7; Romans 14:4).

Think of having the call of God and the total support of a pastor and people in establishing a new work. There are many practical and spiritual benefits. A church-planter’s greatest ally under Christ is His under-shepherd who will recognize God’s hand upon his life, be honest with him, instruct, correct and support him (Proverbs 9:8,9; 15:12,14; 24:6).

Some need to move beyond trying to get God and others in on their work. They need to purpose to get in on God’s as they submit to the one who watches for their souls and wants God’s best for them. God at times shows us through our pastor that which we would not have been shown otherwise (Hebrews 13:7).

Opportunities in the Lord’s work depend on the Lord’s timing and our faithfulness. His favor and church planting success comes to those who honor the order which He has established.

“The thoughts (well-laid plans) of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (Proverbs 21:5)

 


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LEADING A CHURCH TO REPRODUCE ITSELF

Understanding that churches reproduce churches, it is the responsibility of every church to oversee the birthing of baby churches. Reproducing churches isn’t a passive decision but a purposeful one. The Biblical mandate for the local church is to “go.” Reaching Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost is not conditional but imperative. Below are two practical, helpful, and Biblical phases churches should go through to reproduce.

Phase 1 – The Church Preparing

 

1. Help the church cultivate a desire to reproduce

Since churches reproduce a new church, more than just the pastor needs to have the burden and vision to reproduce.  Cultivating a unified desire from the members of the church is crucial and can be done through a study on Biblical church planting or by having a special conference or seminar. BCPM could come in and teach the principles of why a church should birth a church. You can also bring in church planters to share what God is doing in their ministry. The church plant will die prematurely without the church having the desire and commitment to reproduce.

2. Make it a part of your budget

Start setting aside funds. You can do this through your mission’s budget, general budget, or special monthly or quarterly offerings. You will know if the church is “on board” if they give to reproducing themselves. These funds can be helpful to the start-up costs. Some have also designated funds monthly to help with the church planter’s support.

3. Have special prayer meetings throughout the year

Encourage the church collectively to pray over their Judea. Also, encourage your people to pray for areas as they travel around their community.

4. Get involved with a church plant close to your church
When a sister church plants a church, get involved. You can help by evangelizing the new area, supplying needs, and getting involved with the opening services.
 
 

Phase 2 – The Church Delivering

1. Select the Targeted Area
Pray earnestly about needy areas. A particular area might make sense, but there needs to be a clear direction from the Lord and a moving of His Spirit. A needy area doesn’t constitute a call to that area. The Apostle Paul was lead and also held back by the Spirit in Acts 16:6-7. Seek the Lord, and He will make the location very obvious.
 
2. Evangelize the New Area
Possibly go soul-winning twice a month for a few months. Take groups from the church and pray that the Lord will give fruit. People will come to know Christ as Savior, and there will be more excitement in the church for the new area.
 
3. Start an Extension Service

Begin to hold a service to minister to the new community. Although a Bible study can be conducted during the week, a Sunday afternoon service is preferred as this is the best time to reach the majority of people. Have church members from the reproducing church sign up and commit to travel over and help conduct the services each week. It is important for the guests from the new area to know that this is an extension ministry with a goal of establishing a local church.

 

4. Pray for a Church Planter

Begin to pray for the right man to pastor the church. This might be someone from within or someone who the Lord brings from without. Remember that churches reproduce after their “kind.” Even if the man has a college education and experience with other ministries, he needs to be mentored by the reproducing pastor, and this could take several years. The reproducing pastor has to be the one who approves the new pastor and his family. A novice cannot be placed into the ministry. The reproducing church also needs to notice that the man is ready and that there is no question that the Lord has His hand on him and his family.

5. The Long-term Finances

The church planter should be fully supported when starting the church as he needs to give his full time to reaching and pastoring people. The lack of finances is the number one reason why church plants die prematurely. It is very difficult to work, pastor, and be a good husband and father all at the same time. Although most support will come from other churches, pray about what the reproducing church can do long-term. The support can be reduced by 20% each year for a five-year term which will keep the church planter dedicated and dependent on the Lord. This term can be extended or reduced based on the financial state of the church.
 
6. The Launch Strategy

Once the above steps have been taken, it is time to prepare for the official start of the church. Because the church will only get one birth, much time and planning need to be given to a healthy beginning. Preparing a timeline with a checklist, organizing a cooperative effort with other churches, and establishing the best advertising methods are all important factors during this preparation stage. BCPM can help with this entire process.

 
7. Post-start Nurturing
Continue to find ways to nurture and be a blessing to the baby church. Send members over on Sundays to help with ushering, music, and nursery. Continue to help the new church with the evangelism and outreach. Provide resources such as curriculum and printing needs. The reproducing pastor can speak to the men of the new church about being faithful, supporting the new work, and taking care of the pastor. The nurturing relationship can go on for several years and is a vital source of strength for the new church.
 

Birthing a baby church in a needy area is very exciting, rewarding, and exhausting.  It is an opportunity to watch the Lord carry out His commission in reaching one more part of His creation. Churches should spend much time in prayer seeking the Lord and asking Him to establish local churches that will one day reproduce more churches.    

 

 

 


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